The term hard landscape refers to all non-living elements of landscaping, such as a brick patio, a stone wall, or a wooden tree. It is one of the two main subcategories of landscaping, the other being soft landscape. Softscape includes all the living and organic elements of a garden or lawn, such as trees, flowers and grass. Simply put, the harsh landscape is any of the non-living elements in your landscape design.
As the name suggests, these are the toughest design elements in your space, such as concrete, rocks, bricks, cobblestones, stone and wood. Landscaping also includes man-made structures, such as roofs, pergolas, or patio covers, that are specifically used in your gardening. A hard landscape is a design that is built with natural and artificial materials, not living ones. Hardscape includes landscape details such as stone or concrete walkways, roofs, retaining walls, patios, flower pots and other garden designs that use stone, wood, sand, pebbles, brick, metal and other similar materials.
Windows, doors, and outdoor areas require patios and entrances to remain accessible. Similarly, an outdoor pool cannot function without a suitable terrace nearby. Hardscape, in essence, exists to prevent water absorption. Natural rain, water from hoses and sprinklers can degrade a home's exterior over time, but the harsh landscape serves the home by protecting its boundaries.
In addition, hard landscaping protects the structural integrity of an area. Brick and mortar create fortified foundation areas that protect a patio from daily wear and tear. Of course, the harsh landscape serves as an additional foundation when considering aesthetics. Often, a hard landscape installation can be customized.
Stone benches, vertical walls and paved walkways serve a purpose by visually “bringing the patio together”. Hard landscape elements can also define the use of a space, such as a driveway, or they can lead visitors through different areas of soft landscapes, such as a gravel path that winds through a grassy area and reaches a secluded garden. Hard landscaping is a fundamental part of landscape design, as it provides definition and a sense of organization to natural areas and features.